Tag Archives: romance

Review of Deal with the Devil (Mercenary Librarians #1), by Kit Rocha

I pre-ordered a copy of Kit Rocha‘s Deal with the Devil.

Description from Goodreads:

Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

Review:

I really quite enjoyed this. I liked the characters, the diversity, the world, the humor, and the plot (though the twists at the end were easily guessable). I liked that you get a little of everyone’s POV, without head-hopping and that, while there is one main couple, there are also hints of side couples to come. My only real complaint is that, for a series called Mercenary Librarians, books/libraries/librarians play essentially no role. Maybe they will in future books, but they don’t here and I was super disappointed by that. All in all, however, I can’t wait for more.

Review of The Raven’s Ballad (The Otherworld #5), by Emma Hamm

I’ve been very into Emma Hamm‘s books lately. This is book five in the Otherworld series. However, books one and two are a duology, as are books four and five. (I’ve not read the standalone third book). I borrowed this fifth book, The Raven’s Ballad, through Amazon Prime.

Description from Goodreads:

Once upon a time…

A curse can only be broken by luck or an impossible feat, and Aisling has tried numerous impossible feats. Every morning she changes into a swan. Every dusk she has a few moments with the man she loves, only to watch him forced into the form of a raven by the same curse.

When it becomes clear the curse is directly connected with an ancient, awakening evil, she sets off into the depths of Underhill to find answers. Unfortunately, this is a journey that must be made alone.

Bran refuses to believe there isn’t another way. Split off from his queen, he joins forces with the Seelie Fae and the Druids. Darkness spreads throughout the Raven Kingdom. Both king and queen fight to protect their people, their home, and the love they have for each other.

Review:

As I said, this is the fourth book by Emma Hamm I’ve read and I have to say it was my least favorite. That isn’t to say I didn’t like it, just that it wasn’t as strong in the things that made me love the others. Also, it’s the only one I got in kindle instead of audio. So, I suppose there’s a chance that the lack of Siobhan Waring’s narration affected me. Though, I don’t think that was the case.

The reason I say I didn’t love this one as much, is that what I liked about the previous three books in this series is that Hamm subverted a lot of the expected tropes, especially around women. Here she played into them. While this still made a readable story that I enjoyed, it didn’t light me up as much as it would have if she hadn’t. As examples (and this is a spoiler), the female villain is trying to destroy the world because she was spurned by a man. This has to be the number one most common reason women in fiction go bad. *yawn*

Also, what I most enjoyed in The Faceless Woman (the beginning of this duology) was the banter between Aisling and Bran. They spend 95% of this book apart and I missed them as a couple, even if I understood why it had to be that way.

Lastly, I noticed several copy edit mistakes. For example, ‘she’ is ‘se’ at one point and Aisling came out AIsling more than once. None of them disrupted my reading and they aren’t super common, but they are there. They may be in all the previous books too. But as I said, I listened to them, rather than read, so I wouldn’t have noticed.

I did appreciate the presence of a strong M/F platonic friendship. Neither character was even gay, thereby prohibiting a romance. Two people of opposite genders were simply allowed to love each other as family, despite there being no blood between them. I wish we could see that more often. (As a side note, I would love to see a gay pairing in this universe somewhere. I don’t even understand why creatures like the fae would conform to heteronormativity. I mean, that just seems so human and beneath them. *shrug*)

I also still liked Aisling and Bran as characters and recognize how much they grew as people, especially Bran. I look forward to reading more of Hamm’s writing.

Review of Heart of the Fae and Veins of Magic, by Emma Hamm

Last week I listened to Emma Hamm‘s The Faceless Woman and so enjoyed it that I went in search of the beginning of the series and spent this weekend listening to Heart of the Fae and Veins of Magic.

Description:

Once upon a time…

A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of Uí Néill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne.

Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools.

With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne.

This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart.

Review:

Since Heart of the Fae and Veins of Magic form a duology, neither standing alone, I’m going to write a single review encompassing both. But one of the main takeaway potential readers should understand is this point that they need both books for a complete story.

I really enjoyed this, both the story and the narration. I really like that Hamm’s fae are old school scary fae, her female characters are strong and full of agency, and her male ones aren’t afraid to show need. I especially appreciated that it was Sorcha who took the lead in most sexual situations.

My only complaint here is how very gendered everything is. While I appreciate that Hamm’s goal was to emphasize that both a king and a queen are necessary, neither an accouterment to the other. (A pleasant change from most stories that center a king and make the queen little more than an accessory or political pawn.) But the book leans hard into women being soft and kind and caring and men being violent, rough and in need of tempering. True, Sorcha had to go against that in the course of the story but it was still a strong theme in the book. (As was how much bigger he was than her, another classic gendering technique.)

All in all however, I can’t wait to dive into more of Hamm’s writing and Waring’s narration.